WHO IS MAX?
Someone who doesn't like making mistakes. Or being wrong.
Finding my career took both.
After I graduated with an English degree in August of 2015, I knew didn't want to write novels.
Or rather, I knew I didn't want to write novels and live as a poor man my whole life.
As I wandered the job desert, I took a gig at a local coffee shop.
I quickly realized my eye-hand-latte coordination was severely lacking.
I interviewed at a bill collection department for a railroad company. Not my cup of tea, either.
My Dad is in sales, so I went down that path. After interviewing at Enterprise rent-a-car, I got a management trainee job.
The night before the job was supposed to start, my family called me in for a discussion.
"Don't do it." My mom said. "It's not right for you." As her words settled in, I flashed forward to myself in my fifties, gut visible under my sport jacket, balding, my face on the door of some regional building, proud of nothing but making my quotas.
I ended up working at a grocery store to make money in the mean time.
That was prison: dull, machine-like.
Soft 80's hits mocked me from the ceiling speakers.
I went back to working at Lifetime Fitness, where I worked during my college years, this time climbing the ladder to become an interim manager.
Even though I made a bunch of friends with the members, there was no creative outlet there.
In the summer of 2016, my mom, former executive at BBDO ATL and former SVP of Marketing and Brand Communication at Arby's recommended I look into copywriting. She said my creativity and problem solving skills would be put to good use.
I talked to some of the creative vets she knew. I learned there was creativity, a bit of sales, problem-solving, English and a higher pay than a coffee shop barista or grocery store shelf stocker.
I enrolled at Miami Ad School in January of 2017, while still working weekends at Lifetime Fitness.
My family only had enough money to get me in for one quarter, so I worked twice as hard, building my book, getting an interview with Mike Lear, the ECD at Ep+Co. in Greenville, SC.
I drove up to show Mike how serious I was. Two months later, I was the resident creative intern.
He said my tenacity and drive got me the job.
My first day in, I wrote lines for Pilot Flying J that the client approved and produced. Not a bad start.
Later that week, I got a Tumblr post for Denny's published, with more than 4500 likes.
I started to catch that advertising feeling.
Being creative, pushing myself deeper and deeper into the idea, finding gems, insights, solutions; it was a high I'd never felt before.
At the end of my internship, Mike told me to go back to school, build up my book. He said he was impressed, but I needed more time to develop.
With some family crowd funding and a front desk job, I went back to Miami Ad School for another quarter. I worked with five different Art Directors and won a bunch of awards, building my book enough to land a spot at Ogilvy Atlanta as a Copywriting Extern.
"We want to help you write in every creative medium." Chris Dutton the CD told me. "We want you to have the best book you can."
I learned a ton at Ogilvy, working directly with Chris to make sure my writing for OOH and Digital perfectly captured the Holiday Inn voice. He even let me present work to the clients, which ended up getting produced. I also had work produced for Holiday Inn Express and CORT furniture.
Nine weeks in, I was contacted by a former Miami Ad School teacher, Elaine Kelch who wanted me to apply for an internship at BBDO in Los Angeles, working on AT&T.
I applied for the internship that day and was accepted at the end of the week.
Ogilvy wanted to keep me on, but they didn't have the budget to make me a full-time junior copywriter.
Parents said they'd cover rent for June and July. I was going to Los Angeles.
I started the drive on Monday and in four hours, I was in Nashville, TN.
I watched the Rockets lose to Golden State over a few sour beers.
Nine hours of comedy podcasts guided my way safely to Kansas City, Missouri.
Gracious hosts showed me the speakeasy Jazz bars, the delicious wings and pizza.
I was in my element like no other city. I knew I'd be back.
Besides a freak thunderstorm, The drive to Denver was pretty quick.
Had my best night of sleep on a couch at a friend's place.
The roads were windy and high back on the road. Mountains. Construction sites. Cops.
The red desert of Utah and Arizona frightened me. Before this trip, I thought that the open roads and nature of America was beautiful.
I was wrong.
Depressing, these were the places people drove to never drive again. A slight turn at any of the 300 miles of desert and one could disappear, forever.
A tumbleweed rolled by as I wondered how many actually did.
A sign said 8342 feet. Damn, I was high.
I got to Hurricane, Utah late. Stayed with a guy who babysat me when I was four. I hadn't seen him in 10 years.
We hit the dunes in an ATV. Right by the beach.
Landed in LA around 6pm. Don't know what all the fuss was about. Best skills I learned was how to hold my pee for three hours straight and how to zone out for nine.
BBDO LA was the next step on my journey.
Learned from some of the best in the industry on how to write for one of the biggest clients in the world. Scripts. Scripts. Scripts. Regional work for the Falcons, Broadband. More scripts for Network, OOH, Social Digital. My ideas presented by creative directors to the client. Late nights. More late nights.
When my internship was up, I started Freelance Copywriting for bigger clients, working with a former Creative Director from BBDO LA.
I built up more and more confidence, and street cred, till I landed a big Freelance gig in Chattanooga, TN at VAYNERMEDIA, working on one of the biggest accounts, hand-in-hand with the Creative Director.
I was then offered a full time gig there as a copywriter working on awesome brands and helping out on new business.
The people at Vayner are great and have pushed my creative skills to new heights, letting me run some creative accounts with minimal Creative Director input and giving me the reigns to their social presence and helping drive new business.